Sam Explains

Highlander II: The Quickening (feat. I Drink Your Podcast)

This week Sam shares the insanity that is the 1991 movie Highlander II: The Quickening, and to deal with it Danielle calls for backup in the form of Emily from I Drink Your Podcast. In the year 2024 the world has been encased in a shield to protect Earth from the intense rays of the sun now able to ravage to planet due the destruction of the ozone layer. For some reason, Connor MacLeod, now mortal and old beyond his years, was involved in the creation of the shield. How exactly his previous career as a sword wielding immortal translates to large scale engineering projects is a question beyond answer. It’s also revealed that Connor is from the past, or an alien from another planet depending on if you watch the director’s cut of the film, and was sent to the future/Earth with the other immortals as punishment for their participation in a rebellion against Michael Ironside as their evil ruler General Katana. All that crazy is before Sam even gets to the plot (such as it is) or the resurrection of Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez, played by Sean Connery. About the only thing this sequel seems to retain from the first film is the baffling accent choices, so dive in as we discover there can be only one…again.

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Tremors

This week Sam helps Danielle up her Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game by bringing her the 1990 film Tremors. Perfection, Nevada is your typical middle of nowhere tiny town from which handymen Valentine McKee and Earl Bassett are hoping to escape to the city. Their big adventure is interrupted by a series of mysterious deaths and a landslide that wipes out the only road out of town. Couple that with some strange seismographic readings from the newly arrived graduate seismology graduate student, Rhonda LeBeck, and you have a recipe for giant, murderous, subterranean tentacle-worms. Danielle is so excited for the worms she can hardly contain herself and Sam can hardly contain his exasperation as she constantly wants to know more about them with questions he is nowhere near qualified to answer. Rhonda, however, quickly proves to be a giant tentacle-worm expert, somehow, and comes up with several plans to try and escape the deathtrap of a worm-filled valley. Unfortunately, the tentacle-worms, appear to be the smartest things in the valley and foil our heroes at every turn, while Danielle is frustrated that this rural town has a dearth of off-road vehicles they could use to just drive away and end this nonsense. In any case, after a worm briefly eats Rhonda’s pants, they make for their big escape using explosives and weapons from the local prepper couple. This movie inexplicably spawned six sequels and half a SyFy original TV show, and Sam and Danielle can only hope that all their questions about the lifecycle and origins of the tentacle-worms are answered somewhere within all that direct-to-video goodness.

Shark Shock

Sam brings Danielle the show’s first middle grade novel with the Donna Jo Napoli book Shark Shock. Adam is your typical eleven-year-old boy: he likes video games and playing soccer, and is absolutely terrified of sharks. This really isn’t a problem until his family plans a three-week vacation to the New Jersey shore in the same place where the shark attacks that Jaws were based on happened. Adam quickly comes up with a plan to keep himself safe while swimming in the ocean: His talking freckles can keep a lookout and warn him about sharks. Yes, there are talking freckles living on Adam, and no, Sam hasn’t read the first book in this series, Soccer Shock, which may explain some of this. Unfortunately, divisive political squabbling amongst the freckles means they won’t be able to help. Danielle has questions, but even if Sam had answers there’s no time as Adam makes a new friend at the beach by the name of Seth, who was blinded in a boating accident a few years earlier. Adam thinks maybe he can help Seth listen to his own freckles so they can help see for him. Sam is annoyed with Adam’s parents for some pretty blatantly sexist behavior by giving Adam his own room instead of his older sister. Danielle just wants to know where the heck are all the freaking sharks.

The 13th Warrior

In the first full episode of the new year, Sam shares with Danielle the 1999 Antonio Banderas film The 13th Warrior. When Ahmad, an Arabic poet, is caught canoodling with a courtier’s wife, he is exiled in the form of being sent out of his home as an ambassador. An ambassador to where? That doesn’t matter, because he immediately hooks up with a band of Vikings who are called on a quest to stop an ancient evil from destroying some other Vikings. Sam doesn’t really get it either. The point is, Ahmad will have to learn to get along with his new friends if they’re to accomplish their mission. In his journey, Ahmad will get to know the Viking people, more than Sam at least, who still can’t remember a single one of their names. Ahmad will find love, hear tales of dragons, and deal with Viking political intrigue, and if you think all of those things aren’t immediately discarded by the movie as irrelevant, then this movie will surprise you. Don’t worry though, the film has plenty of cave bear-people who love retreating through the mist while hissing to keep things wacky.

Book Reshorts: The Scooby-Doo Dilemma

In the final Book Reshorts of the winter season, and the first of the new year, Sam surprises Danielle by expressing his consternation with a particular aspect of the 2010 Scooby-Doo show Mystery Incorporated: Scooby-Doo’s love life. In the show, Scooby-Doo acquires a romantic partner who is a regular Cocker Spaniel dog, and Sam wrestles with the ethical and logistical questions of this pairing. While the show was filled with ridiculous choices, from Nazi robots to inter-dimensional aliens, listen to Sam breeze past those insanities to remain laser-focused on the aspect of the show that confuses him the most.

Pottersville

This week’s Winter Bizarre lives up to the name as Sam explains the 2017 movie Pottersville. If you love holiday classics like It’s a Wonderful Life then Pottersville really wants to trick you into thinking it’s going to be your new favorite. Maynard Greiger is a general store shopkeeper living in Pottersville, a small, economically depressed town. When he discovers his wife is having an affair, of sorts, Maynard deals with this in the only rational and healthy way possible: By dressing up as a Sasquatch to try and win her back. The side-effect is that now the town’s prospects are looking up as news spreads and Bigfoot tourists roll in. Maynard must struggle to keep the ruse up to save the town, and maybe his marriage, as more attention, and monster hunters, focus-in on him. What, exactly, this has to do with the holidays, or really anything, is spectacularly unclear. Just remember: Whenever a bell rings a Sasquatch gets its feet.

Arachnophobia

Sam concludes this year’s Spook Retorts with the 1990 thrill-omedy film Arachnophobia. When a hitherto unknown species of giant, deadly, Venezuelan hive spider is transported to a small West Coast town things are going to get creepy-crawly. Impressively quickly, the Venezuelan spider breeds with a common house spider which raises for Danielle all sorts of questions about spider reproduction that Sam is ill-equipped to answer. Mismatched spider breeding sizes aside, Dr. Ross Jennings, played by the always delightful Jeff Daniels, is a new transplant to the town looking to set up a medical practice, but finds himself in every doctor’s worst nightmare when all his patients start mysteriously dropping dead. Will Dr. Ross be able to unravel this mystery and protect his family all while overcoming his intense fear of spiders? Maybe, but not until suspiciously after his medical practice competition is eliminated. Luckily, John Goodman, playing a goofy exterminator, is there to be the hero we all want in our lives. As for how the spiders feel about all this, I’ll let renowned spider lover Jimmy Buffett’s end-credits song lyrics speak for them: “I’m fakey, real flaky, eight legs and one pea brain, so don’t bug me.”

My Boyfriend’s Back

The month of Spook Retorts continues with Sam sharing the 1993 dark comedy movie My Boyfriend’s Back. Johnny Dingle (yes, it’s that kind of movie) has been in love with Missy McCloud since before he can remember, and he is determined to go to prom with her no matter what. When a truly idiotic plan he concocts to win her affections goes awry, Johnny learns that not even death can stop his creepy obsession with Missy and getting that prom dance. Unfortunately, now a zombie, Johnny faces the conundrum of how to control both his lust for human flesh and the equally off-putting lust Missy suddenly has for this walking corpse. Throw in some zany antics and parents who are way too supportive of Johnny’s new diet, and it’s impossible to predict where this movie is going, though Danielle tries by tossing out several excellent alternate endings, as well as a dubious new business proposition. This movie may be low on the spooks, but it’s got wackiness to spare so Sam gives it at least five severed-thumbs up.

Ringworld – Part 3

This week Sam concludes the sci-fi romp Ringworld by Larry Niven. With Teela Brown careening off into the unknown, Luis Wu and his remaining alien friends set out to find her, before immediately falling into a trap. Here they meet Halrloprillalar Hotrufan (a name Sam cannot pronounce) who is a surviving Ringworld engineer from before their civilization fell. Will she provide valuable insights and a advanced knowledge that helps our bumbling adventurers? Not really, she’s mostly just another sex object for Luis, who has seemed to have forgotten all about Teela Brown. Fortunately, Luis has a plan to escape Ringworld, which he inexplicably will not share with any of his companions. Will Luis’ ridiculous plan work to free them of Ringworld? Is Teela better off without Luis? (Yes.) Don’t worry if you can’t remember anything that happened in the previous part, neither can Danielle.

Ringworld – Part 2

This week Sam continues his exploration of the book Ringoworld by Larry Niven. Louis Wu and his motley crew have crash-landed on the Ringworld and it’s time to explore! But first, they must discuss, at length, their various theories about the world and also a bit of inter-galactic politics. As they zoom around the strange mega-structure, they encounter ruined cities, people reverted to savagery, murderous sunflowers, and floating castles, but Louis’ and Teela’s top priority is to have sex just about everywhere. The truth of Teela’s luck will come out, and our intrepid heroes will make some truly impressive leaps in logic that are somehow always right, when they’re not bickering, that is. Will the mysteries of the Ringworld and the fall of its civilization be revealed? Well, there’s a third part for a reason.